Keeping Costs Down: Site Design
It is perfectly true that your website is vitally important and that it must be stylish, easily navigable and a positive representation of your brand. It is NOT true, however, that you need to spend thousands of pounds on it. This site that you are on right cost £129. $99 upgrading my WordPress package & $78 on the fonts on my banner from myfonts.com (most of these services are priced in USD). I’m not saying it’s the most amazing website in the world, but it looks nice and does what I need it to do. Fancier sites, like the one I just created for tradescantandson.com (also using WordPress) take a little longer, but are still completely do-able by a non-pro, you just have to play around with it a little (and read the instructions!).
Ecommerce sites are different, but only very slightly. It used to be the case that a small online shop needed a custom-built CMS, which was an expensive nightmare and whenever you needed extras like codes etc. (or it broke) you had to go back to the developer, which was a nuisance for everybody concerned. Then Shopify and Magento Go came along. I used Magento Go first, when I ditched my custom CMS site, but we’re about to launch our brand new Natural History site on Shopify and it’s brilliant. You can use one of their own templates or buy a premium one for up to a couple of hundred dollars, and as you fill in the basic information it asks you for, it builds you a sophisticated ecommerce website for as little as £19 a month. When you log in you can manage all your orders and site content in a sophisticated and straightforward way.
If you’re dead set on spending £3k+ on a custom business or ecommerce site, why not spend £500 on a good logo and brand identity now, sign up for WordPress or Shopify, pick your favourite free or premium theme and give it a few months to see how it goes. Even if you do decide to go with the experts at that stage, you will quite certainly have a more informed idea of what you need than you did when you started.
Image above: myownbike.de – everybody loves a good bike site.